Thursday, June 11, 2009

BB1 - The War Machines 1

The final story of Season 2, The Time Meddler, was a landmark story in that it was the birth of the "pseudo-historical", as well as suggesting that The Doctor and his TARDIS were no longer unique in the universe. The effects of the Season 3 finale, The War Machines, however, are much larger, and are still being felt today.

First off, we finally get a story entirely set in the present day (1966, at the time) for the first time in history (barring some short stopovers seen in previous stories). These types of stories were seen by new producer Innes Lloyd and script editor Gerry Davis as a means of replacing the traditional historical stories that were falling out of favour. However, The War Machines is more of a template for the 1970's Jon Pertwee era than anything.

Also, what may have, at the time, been seen as an increasingly dated looking programme, Doctor Who firmly enters the Swinging '60's in this episode, with its young and hip nightclubs, fashion, and diction ("I dig your fab gear!"). Not for quite a while did the series attempt to align itself with the present day as much as it does here. Other stories to come might have been set in the present day (even though the Pertwee/UNIT stories were supposedly set a few years later than the year in which they were broadcast), but The War Machines, with its sly references to Jimmy Saville, wants so desperately to be current in a way that wasn't really portrayed until the new series started up in 2005.

As for the story itself, it's written again by Ian Stuart Black (who took over at a late stage from BBC staff writer Pat Dunlop), who must have clearly had a fascination with the character of The Doctor. In the previous story, The Savages (also written by Black), the Elders have been following The Doctor's travels for years, and his fame precedes his arrival on the Elders' home planet. Similarly, The Doctor is granted immediate and unquestioned access to the new Post Office tower and the WOTAN headquarters. I'm sure there's some Season 6B nonsense that can explain all of this, but I'm in no mood to seek this information out.

And as for "Doctor Who is required. Bring him here.", well.....


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